If your dog develops an issue or begins exhibiting worrying symptoms, the first stop is often the veterinarian’s office, where upon examination and tests, your dog is prescribed a medication to treat his symptoms. As a dog owner, it can be unnerving to see your dog being prescribed medication that you are not familiar with and do not know the potential side effects of.
It is always important to ask your veterinarian about potential side effects when medication is being prescribed, but it is also helpful to have a baseline understanding of common medications that your dog may be prescribed during his lifetime and what the side effects could be.
Diazepam is a drug that is prescribed to dogs to treat a variety of different conditions. Below is a guide of foundational information about what Diazepam is, what its potential uses are, and what the potential side effects of Diazepam are for dogs.
What is Diazepam?
Diazepam, which is also sometimes known by the brand name of Valium, is a drug that is sometimes used in dogs as a prescribed anti-anxiety medication, a treatment for seizures in dogs , a muscle relaxant, or as a medicine for treating a different medical condition.
Diazepam increases the Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) in the dog’s brain, which blocks the neurotransmitters that cause a dog to feel excitement. The blockage of the excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain results in a calming effect on the dog, which is why it is most often known for being a treatment for dogs with anxiety.
Diazepam is considered to be a sedative drug and may also be used by some veterinarians to sedate a dog prior to a procedure or surgery. A veterinarian may prescribe Diazepam as a treatment for anxiety, seizures or epilepsy in dogs, loss of appetite, irritable bowel syndrome in dogs, muscle cramping disorders, or a slipped disk. All use of Diazepam should only be under the direct advisement of a licensed veterinarian.
Side Effects of Diazepam for Dogs
As with any medication being administered, there are a number of side effects associated with Diazepam. If your dog is prescribed Diazepam, it is important to discuss the potential side effects with your veterinarian before giving your dog a dose so that you can gauge whether or not this is the right treatment option moving forward.
It is vital to note that the potential occurrence of side effects of Diazepam increases with long-term use. If used for a prolonged period of time, there is also the risk that withdrawal symptoms may occur if the doses of Diazepam are abruptly halted. Below are a handful of the most common side effects of Diazepam for dogs.
- Slow heart rate or breathing
- Increased appetite
- Changes in behavior
- Loss of coordination
- Reduced energy and drowsiness
Other symptoms may occur in dogs that have been taking Diazepam for a long period of time, such as anemia, bruising, bleeding, and liver damage. Dogs that are diagnosed with anemia due to their usage of Diazepam also often present gum paleness and feebleness. Dogs that develop liver damage from extended use of Diazepam will often exhibit a yellowing of the skin, eyes, and gums due to the body beginning jaundice.
If any of these symptoms develop, the prescribing veterinarian must be immediately contacted in order to determine the right treatment path moving forward. In rare cases, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to Diazepam. Symptoms that a dog may be having an allergic reaction to Diazepam are scratching, breaking out in hives, vomiting, diarrhea, shock, gum paleness, and/or swelling of the face. If a dog appears to be having an allergic reaction to Diazepam, emergency veterinary care must be immediately sought after.
Diazepam is not safe for use in all dogs. If a dog has kidney disease or liver disease, then it is very important that they be closely monitored while being treated with Diazepam to ensure that there are no negative side effects developing.
Dogs who suffer from trouble breathing, are anemic, or are elderly will also require close monitoring when taking Diazepam. Diazepam can also result in birth defects, so it is important that nursing or pregnant dogs only take Diazepam under the direct guidance of a licensed veterinarian.